Grief and Depression

by Jane

Hello, I have been with my boyfriend for 5 years. He lost his father suddenly 6 years ago. In that time his mother has gotten progressively worse with what I believe to be depression. She has lost over 70lbs, she doesn't leave the house, she has no friends, and she depends on my boyfriend emotionally, financially, and physically. She won't even walk around the corner to get milk because she says she can't carry it. It has been taking a serious toll on our relationship and we are both resenting her. She needs help but anytime we try to discuss it with her she says she's fine. He has an older sister that is completely in denial that their mother needs help and has been no help. What can we do to help her start moving on?

Ben's Answer:

Unresolved grief is a common cause of depression.
If this is a woman who prior to the loss, was functioning pretty well, then this should be fairly easy to resolve. But only with her cooperation. A person in deep denial can be very hard to help. She has to come to the point of admitting, at least a little bit, that things have gotten to a very bad place.

One way to break a person's denial is confrontation. Another is to simply stop enabling them. What would happen if she had to carry her own milk? It may sound harsh, but a person like this needs to be shocked into reality a little bit (with love and concern behind it of course). Sometimes this might even mean keeping the confrontation going until she either gets really angry, or cries. Clearly she's been stuffing all her emotions for a long time, and the result is the person you see wasting away.

Once she's able to admit she needs help, I'd strongly recommend . If you took her to a doctor or a hospital they would immediately insist that antidepressants are the only solution. I can tell you that there are other options to consider. Even traditional psychotherapy or grief counseling would probably be enormously helpful. But if she's really shut down emotionally, Meridian Tapping would probably be the fastest and easiest way to make a profound shift in her mood.

If you or your boyfriend could learn the technique and get comfortable enough to try it with her, I think you might be able to help her yourselves. Of course, that partly depends on the nature of the relationship, as well as her comfort level, and yours, with taking that role. It's possible that within one session things could change a lot, if you address the loss of her husband, and her grief, and her giving up on life, in the wording, as you either tap on her meridian points, or she taps on herself as she follows your lead.

Best wishes to you all,
Ben Schwarcz, MFT
Santa Rosa Psychotherapist

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